From the network - 4th June 2020
The World Health Organisation along with the United Nations stressed the importance that national leaders adopt a cooperative, global and human rights-based approach in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic (1). The COVID-19 pandemic has not only shown society the importance of welfare systems, but more so the impact and repercussions that good or bad governance has on society at large.
The European Students’ Union, ESU, above all, commends governing bodies working to support healthcare staff on the national frontlines of defense and ensure that health services are accessible to all who need it. On the other hand, ESU is disturbed by governments that propagate denial, distrust in science and unnecessary fear during the pandemic (2, 3), as this risks setting society on a much longer and more painful path to normality.
Under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which most countries have adopted, governments are obligated to take effective steps for the “prevention, treatment and control of epidemic [..] diseases” and authorities must ensure that everyone has access to the same rights and protection. National constitutions and international human rights treaties contain strict clauses that allow governments to invoke special powers in times of crisis. However, emergency measures breaching human rights must be invoked under legal and scientific basis with the scope of combatting the pandemic. They must be subject to a pre-fixed time limit and must not subvert or escape the work of oversight and scrutiny carried out by Parliaments and independent authorities. Everyone should be fully informed about emergency measures and no person or social group should be discriminated against by the arbitrary application of such measures (4).
Many states are under “lockdown” as governments assumed added legislative powers to close non-essential businesses, enforce quarantine and isolation measures, restrict public gatherings, limit freedom of movement and association, and subject people to increased surveillance through street police patrols or mobile applications (5, 6). In the following statement, ESU reviews the reprehensible damage being done to European democratic values and fundamental human rights and freedoms amidst the economic and social consequences of the global pandemic that is, in certain circumstances further aggravated by European leaders adopting emergency measures that only favour the ruling classes and that deepen social inequality.
Continue reading on ESU’s website!
Civil dialogue From the network - 26th March 2020
The Citizens and Learning Monitor has been a milestone in lifelong learning for the last years. With the 2019 version almost out, let’s have a look at the previous version.
Lately, the world has witnessed the harsh impact of populist politics. In the European Union, this rise in nationalism and populism has translated into an old member state leaving the Union for good, and “illiberal” countries rising up against civil society which could bring a major overhaul in the European Parliament for the May 2019 elections. Struggling with how to deal with extremist parties and their leaders, the EU has nonetheless attempted to cautiously restrain possible conflicts by peaceful means and promotion of participation of its citizens to bring people together despite far-right challenges ahead of the next European Parliament elections in May 2019.
To counter and prepare citizens to reinforce and strengthen core European democratic values, the Union has pledged to promote citizenship through education after ministers convened in Paris on March 2015 to set up common objectives. Having derived the 2017 report based on three thematic issues directly taken from the declaration’s objectives, this year the monitor aims to go further into understanding the processes and methods for the promotion and delivery of citizenship education in Europe by non-formal education providers.
This Monitor is a contribution to further examine the relationship between citizenship and lifelong learning experiences and policy outcomes in and outside of the classroom in various European countries. Mapping the different approaches that SOLIDAR Foundation members have taken in promoting EU values in relation to citizenship education and lifelong learning for greater democratic participation of citizens, the outcomes will be disseminated towards European and national policy-makers and offers an array of best practices to collect, use and transfer among networks. The SOLIDAR Education and Lifelong Learning Forum will further work on the topic and develop a long term sustainable advocacy strategy for CSOs towards national and EU-wide authorities to influence the debate and revision of national curricula and education systems.
News - 16th February 2015
At the extraordinary European Council meeting in Brussels last week EU leaders discussed the EU’s counter-terrorism measures in the wake of the attacks in Paris. The meeting was proposed by French MEP Alain Lamassoure, urging that it is “high time we (…) addressed the vulnerability of our countries to this contagion of hate”. However, security and anti-terrorist measures can only be a part of the solution at their best. EUCIS-LLL calls on EU institutions and EU leaders to prioritise civic education and diversity in its education and training cooperation, in order to provide a long-term, sustainable response to the “contagion of hate” – democratic, cohesive and learning societies in the true sense of these words.
The state of democracy in Europe indeed does not look promising. As a consequence of the social and economic crisis and rising inequalities, there is a rise of far-right, nationalist and xenophobic parties all over Europe. Fifty-seven per cent of EU citizens say that immigration to their countries from outside the EU evokes a negative feeling in them (Eurobarometer, autumn 2014). The European youth feels their voice does not count and therefore an increasing number of young people seek shelter in radical movements such as the extreme-right and jihadist groups. The recent terrorist attacks and the following turmoil only confirmed that Europe and its divided societies are turning into a powder keg.
We do not need superficial adherence to democratic values nor imposing the values in a normative way. On the contrary, we need to make democratic values alive. Not only should we foster tolerance, solidarity and intercultural understanding, but also empower (particularly) young people to be active citizens able to stand for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The EU cooperation in education and training has so far mainly focused on the employability aspect. Unfortunately, these events remind us that we have forgotten the social and civic dimension of education. “There is no doubt that education and training contribute to developing civic skills to fight intolerance, fear of ‘the other’, identity closure and nationalism”, says EUCIS-LLL Secretary-General Joke van der Leeuw Roord. The EU has a responsibility to defend the fundamental European democratic values under threat and it should deliver policies contributing to social welfare, well-being, and active citizenship.
EUCIS-LLL proposes that civic education and diversity, including intercultural and interreligious dialogue, become priority areas of EU cooperation in education and training, with clear roadmaps. “Focus on the acquisition and assessment of transversal competences and on the implementation of inclusive, flexible and affordable learning pathways are an important asset to these policies”, said David Lopez, President of EUCIS-LLL. This should be reflected within the Erasmus+ programme, Europe for Citizens’ programme and the European Social Fund (ESF). Additional synergies should be made between these to have a large-scale impact as called for in several initiatives already, together with the increased use of open method of coordination (OMC) providing a crucial added value. For example a sub-group on citizenship education and intercultural learning could be set up within the Thematic working group on transversal skills.
These policies have the potential of building strong, cohesive and learning societies in Europe resilient to the serious threats to their democratic values. Let’s act together to tackle the contagion of hate!